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New fund to support community organisations helping those most at risk during Coronavirus crisis

20 March 2020
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Here at Neighbourly we know now, more than ever, how important it is to support local communities. That's why we've set up a new Community Fund, backed by our partner businesses, to support the Neighbourly causes that will be most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

M&S Family (including M&S Bank and M&S Energy), Lidl, Aldi, Danone UK & Ireland and Coca-Cola European Partners have created a new fund to support community organisations helping those most at risk during the Coronavirus crisis and are urging other businesses to join them.

The Neighbourly Community Fund will funnel vital funds directly to community causes across the UK to ensure they can deliver essential services to those most at risk during the crisis. Our partners have committed a combined total of almost £500,000 to the Fund, to provide immediate micro-grants to community organisations that are helping the people most affected by the outbreak, including the elderly, those on low incomes and people at risk of food insecurity. And they are calling on other businesses to join them and contribute to the fund to build a coordinated response.

We know that many small charities and community groups face severe disruption to their services as a result of Covid-19, following a reduction in the number of volunteers and donations. These unrestricted grants will initially go to existing Neighbourly members across the UK and Ireland, including foodbanks, homeless shelters, care homes, youth groups and health charities. Some charities have told us they need urgent support to carry on running their core services, while others are adapting and starting new services to support people in the community.

Community causes supported through the fund will include organisations like The Moorlands Community Charity, which provides Meals on Wheels services for older people near Hull. Jacky Crawford, head of service there, told us: “The need for our services will increase over the coming weeks as many older people self-isolate, but without urgent help to get hold of more supplies, we just won’t be able to sustain our support.”

The immediate micro grants of up to £400 will go towards food provision, emergency supplies, practical support, running costs, transport and other essentials. By co-ordinating the emergency response, we will be able to assess where the most urgent gaps in support are, and where to direct funds to.


Steve Rowe, CEO of M&S, has commented:

"One of the things that makes me most proud to work at M&S is the role we play in our local communities. Not just through the brilliant service our colleagues give to our customers, but through the time and energy they give to helping those most in need. We can’t do this on our own and so we partner with organisations like Neighbourly who link our stores to local causes so we can donate surplus food and non-food products to the people who really need it. This fund will help mobilise over 1,000 local charities and organisations across the UK to support the most vulnerable members of our community. The whole M&S family is getting involved - including M&S Bank and M&S Energy – so we can keep up the support communities need most as events unfold."


Christian Härtnagel, CEO at Lidl GB, said:

“We are living in unprecedented times, and it’s essential that we look after those who need it most – that’s why our ‘Feed it Back’ scheme with Neighbourly is more important than ever. Through our store connections, and through this additional donation, we are able to directly support groups who are out in our communities doing an exceptional job of looking after the most vulnerable.”


Fritz Walleczek, Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility at Aldi, added:

“Neighbourly makes a huge difference in the communities they support, making sure surplus food and other donations get to those who need it most. That’s why, as a long-term partner, we’re committed to helping them throughout the year. The additional support provided through this fund is critical in ensuring Neighbourly causes have the support they need to continue making a positive difference to the most vulnerable in our society during this particularly difficult time.”


Leendert Den Hollander, Vice President and General Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners commented:

“There is nothing more important than communities at a time like this, and we fully support the excellent work Neighbourly is doing to ensure those of us most at risk are equipped with essential supplies and services through this difficult period.”  


James Pearson, Managing Director of Danone UK & Ireland, said:

“Working closely with communities has always been important to Danone and forms a core part of our ‘One Planet. One Health’ vision. We are committed to supporting our local communities and are proud to be a founding member of the Neighbourly Community Fund to help organisations on the front line in this time of uncertainty.”


The launch of the fund follows a new survey of Neighbourly’s front-line charity and community partners, which showed:

  • 77 percent of charities supporting older people expect services to be disrupted, with 75 percent of organisations who support young people fearing the same
  • More than 60 percent of charities have already seen a reduction in food surplus donations in recent weeks.
  • 75 percent of organisations expect to provide emergency provision after schools close

According to government statistics, 3 million children are at risk of going hungry while they are out of school; 1 million children who receive free school meals during term time, and another 2 million children who are ineligible for free school meals but are growing up in households in in-work poverty. Our network of charity partners estimate that with the additional pressures created by coronavirus, they expect to support an average of almost 180 people each week with emergency provision such as food and basic essentials. 


We know that what is needed by community groups and charities today will be very different over the weeks and months to come. Through our nationwide network of vetted good causes we will work closely with our partners to ensure the right support is directed to those places in most urgent need.


How to support your local community during the Coronavirus outbreak

18 March 2020
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Here at Neighbourly we know now, more than ever, how important it is to support local communities.

With almost 12,000 local good causes on the Neighbourly platform, we’re already hearing directly about the effects of Covid-19 on efforts to help those who are vulnerable – but also the amazing adaptability of organisations determined to keep these essential services running.

However, food banks are already running low on supplies and many parents are worried that they won’t be able to afford to feed their children during school closures.

For the thousands of employee volunteers and fundraisers using the Neighbourly platform, the work environment has been rapidly changing too – with many now working remotely and others drafted in to work in hard hit departments – particularly across health and retail.

Despite this, communities are coming together in force to offer much needed local support to those in need. 

So whilst we might not be able to run programmes in the usual way, we do have a few suggestions on how you can continue to stay neighbourly and support local communities over the next few weeks and months.


Donations

Do donate (or continue donating) to food bank collections at your local supermarket if you can. If you can’t make it to the supermarket, consider making a food or financial donation online.

Click here to find Neighbourly good causes that accept online donations. If you’re keen to donate locally, you can filter the results by postcode by using the search bar on the right-hand side.

If you’re shopping online, check to see if your supermarket takes financial donations to food banks – this money can be used to purchase additional supplies as demand increases from those who are vulnerable during the pandemic.


Support

Get in touch with your local charities and food banks to see how you can support them. They’re in the best place to let you know if they could do with additional volunteer help, cash or donations of supplies. You can find your nearest good causes and food banks via the Neighbourly platform.

People are also forming local groups across the country – often using social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp to communicate and mobilise. Check to see if any groups have formed in your local area where they can help put you in touch with those in need.

If you’re unsure where to start, try typing the beginning of your post code into the Facebook search bar to see if any local groups already exist.

You can also find local groups listed on the new Covid Mutual Aid website.

Alternatively, a woman in Falmouth has come up with an innovative solution for offering help to those self-isolating. Simply print and fill out these postcards and pop them through your neighbours' doors. You don’t have to offer practical support, some of the people you reach may just want a friendly voice to chat to on the phone – particularly if they are forced to self-isolate alone.

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Advice and resources

For those that are concerned or worried about themselves or others, there are so many resources out there to help. Here are just a few that we think are particularly useful for local communities.

If you have concerns about the elderly and vulnerable, take a look at the advice from Age Concern.

If you are struggling with anxiety related to the pandemic, or have other mental health concerns for either yourself or others in your community, head over to Mind and their suggestions for ‘Coronavirus and mental wellbeing’.

For those with links to local day centres and homeless shelters, the government has released specific advice for how to deal with the coronavirus


Community response

Finally, we’ve been supporting efforts from a collaboration of community-focused organisations including Eden Project Communities and the Lottery Fund with their Community Covid 19 Action Response which has some easy but important suggestions for how to support your local community. You can see the top five in their illustration below.


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Please note, if you have any concerns for your health or the health of others, please refer to the government advice and NHS guidance.

Marks and Spencer, food surplus & community

18 September 2018
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Marks and Spencer has for a long time been dedicated to making a difference with its ‘Plan A’ vision for a sustainable future. Through this programme, first launched over 10 years ago in 2007, they strive to be a business that has a positive impact on wellbeing, communities and the planet. The program focuses on social and environmental issues and ensuring that by 2025 they are a circular business, generating zero waste – a bold goal that involves all their operations, supply chains and customers.

Since 2012, M&S have been zero-waste-to-landfill across their owned operations in the UK and Republic of Ireland and have made the prevention of food waste a priority. They were the first major retailer to provide live updates via the Neighbourly website on the number of tonnes of surplus food redistributed, and the first to manage a nationwide redistribution scheme through a single platform.

This type of thinking isn’t new to M&S. They’ve always been an innovator and leader in their food operations – pioneering boil-in-the-bag and sachet meals in 1972, then creating Britain’s first chilled instant meal, the much-loved chicken Kiev in 1979. The ease of not having to cook up a meal from scratch suited the working woman and the popularity of the ready-meal soared – an innovation that most certainly changed how we ate as we entered the ‘80s.

Arguably their greatest invention remains the adored packaged sandwich, created by M&S in the spring of 1980. Packaged sandwiches are now a staple in our lives and the industry is booming, its annual worth estimated at £8 billion – so it may seem surprising that the idea had never been tried before, but it hadn’t. Packaged sandwiches were a huge novelty when they started being sold on the Marks and Spencer shop floor for as little as 43p just 37 years ago. Some thought them outlandish – who would pay for something they could just as easily make at home? But they sold, and sold fast. The way that we lived and worked was changing and soon every supermarket was following the trend. In the early 90s, the head of their sandwich department developed M&S’s first dedicated “food to go” section, with its own tills and checkouts, in Manchester. The innovation was a huge success and prefigured the layout of most contemporary supermarkets.

But as we know, the advent of the modern-day supermarket, combined with the changing lifestyles and expectations of consumers has bought about one of today’s biggest environmental challenges – food waste. The total estimate for UK food waste stands at a staggering 10.2 million tonnes. Of that, 7.1 million tonnes are thrown away in our homes – with 70% classed as ‘avoidable’ (meaning every year we put 5.0 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten into our bins, worth an estimated £15 billion). Marks and Spencer are working to address this problem through advancements in the products and packaging that they sell. They engage their customers and encourage them to store and use food more efficiently – for example shoppers have been given tips on how to avoid food waste and the clarity of food date labelling has been improved.

Of the remaining 3.1 million tonnes of UK food waste, 260,000 tonnes come from retail, 1.85 million from manufacturers and around 1 million from hospitality and food service. This waste has been the focus of intense scrutiny in recent years, which has successfully resulted in a 50% increase in the amount redistributed to good causes in just two years, according to WRAP. This brings the 2017 total to the equivalent of 102 million meals redistributed – to the value of £130 million.

Marks & Spencer’s approach to food waste is comprehensive and they have committed to reducing food waste by 20% by 2020 and becoming a zero-waste business by 2025. Their primary aim is to reduce the amount of waste created in the first place and they’ve invested in new stock forecasting and planning systems as well as comprehensive supplier engagement schemes. They’ve also increased the volume of short life food sold at a discount to customers and this process now consistently clears most of the products that would otherwise have been disposed of. After redistributing whatever possible to good causes through the Neighbourly platform, any remaining surplus goes to anaerobic digestion (a process that turns food waste into electricity – some of which is bought back to power M&S stores) – absolutely nothing goes to landfill. 

To date, M&S stores have donated around 5.6 million meals to local communities through the Neighborly platform. This includes surplus baked goods, cupboard items, fruit, vegetables and chilled food (meat, dairy, fish, frozen food, ready meals, juices, sandwiches). They also donate flowers and non-food surplus like cleaning products, laundry items and toiletries. Their stores are connected to more than 850 local charities across the UK where meals, food parcels and a helping hand are provided to those who need it.

Through Neighbourly, every store is partnered with a nearby group such as a community café, foodbank or homeless shelter that receives daily alerts to let them know when surplus is available. Thanks to these donations, charity partners can benefit from their resources going a little further, enabling them to provide fresh items, fruit and vegetables to people in the community who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them. The stores also provide wider support to their local charities through their year-long Local Charity Fundraising and annual volunteering programmes.

Here are just a few of the local causes that M&S support through Neighbourly:

Whitechapel Centre is the leading homelessness and housing charity in Liverpool supporting people to get back on their feet and providing them with a hot meal and a kind smile. Local M&S stores (and other retailers) give their unsold food to the centre so that this service can be provided. The charity also gives advice on housing, employment and basic facilities for the homeless. They are committed to helping people who are sleeping rough, living in hostels or struggling to manage their accommodation find a home and learn essential independent living skills. They work closely with each individual to get them the right help.

Norwich Food Hub collect surplus food from many stores in the area to redistribute it to community groups and local charities across the city. The hub was born from Director Rowan van Tromp’s passion surrounding environmental sustainability within the food supply chain and realisation that there was a lack of this type of service in the area. They receive and sort the food surplus before redistributing it to the vulnerable people across the city who are living at or below the breadline. Sadly, food poverty is a large issue in Norwich but the food hub’s work to redistribute surplus food is helping to lessen the problem.

In Yeovil, the community meals service delivers hot meals for the elderly or those who struggle to cook for themselves. Their meals are homemade and delivered by volunteers to people who might be suffering with dementia or physical issues that prevent them from cooking. Through this service carers are given a break from the task of preparing dinner by having a hot meal delivered instead, taking the strain away and brightening people’s days.


Nowadays we find that most businesses are actually doing more to change on the inside than many people appreciate, and M&S continues to lead from the front as customer expectations about what kind of companies they want to support change. As M&S colleagues continue to challenge why more can't be done, we at Neighbourly are continually working on solutions that connect their contribution so that customers notice and want to know how they can join in. We're extremely proud of our 4+ year partnership with M&S and how we've proved that a national business can indeed make a local difference in every community it serves.

For more information on Plan A, have a look at corporate.marksandspencer.com/plan-a


How to get involved in the M&S surplus scheme

Marks and Spencer are continuing to expand their food surplus scheme, making sure they can donate as much food surplus as possible and make a positive impact in the community. If you have a charity or community cause that could regularly collect surplus, you should join the Neighbourly platform and create a free page for your group. Your organisation will need a Level 2 (or equivalent) food hygiene certified no longer than 2.5 years ago. For chilled collections, you’ll need cool bags or boxes, freezers for storage and volunteers to collect after store closing in the evening.


Win tickets and boxes to Wembley Stadium events with #MiniPitches

10 April 2018
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The Football Association and their delivery partner The Football Foundation have partnered with Neighbourly to launch #MiniPitches - a programme to help schools and communities part-fund their own 3G football pitch. The pitches will enable schools to provide before, after school and lunchtime clubs with improved facilities to increase pupils’ participation in sport. The ambition is for the pitches to benefit the wider community too, with adult sport organisations and grassroots clubs using the facility at evenings and weekends.

Seven schools are fundraising between now and May 2018 to support their application to the Football Foundation to deliver an exciting new multi-use pitch.

To support the campaign we've launched an exciting range of prize draws for business and individual donors - with all donations qualifying for entry to fantastic prize draws, including signed England shirts and VIP Wembley tickets.


The Mini Pitch Prizes


Emirates FA Cup Semi Final - 8-person box to the game on either 21st or 22nd April

2 prizes/boxes to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a financial donation is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 12th April 2018


SSE Women’s FA Cup Final 5th May - 8-person box at Wembley

3 prizes/boxes to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a financial donation of £100 or more is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 20th April 2018.


Emirates Men's FA Cup Final General Admission ticket – 1 x pair 19th May

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a financial donation of £500 or more is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 1st May 2018.


England men's game 2nd June 2018 - England v Nigeria x 5 tickets

7 prizes (of 5 tickets) to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a financial donation is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 17th May 2018.


England men's game 2nd June 2018 - England v Nigeria - 3 x 8-person box with food at Wembley

1 Grand Prize of all 3 boxes to be won

This grand prize will be won by the business or individual that makes the highest donation to a participating school's Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or directly to the school.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 11th May 2018.


Ed Sheeran concert tickets Saturday 16th June 2018 – 1 x pair

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever financial donation is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 18th May 2018.


Taylor Swift concert tickets Saturday 23rd June 2018 – 1 x pair

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a financial donation is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 18th May 2018.


Tickets to NFL Autumn game on 21st or 28th October 2018 – 1 x pair

2 prizes (of 2 tickets) to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a donation of £500 or more is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 1st May 2018.


Tickets to the Rugby Challenge Cup Final on 25th August 2018

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a donation of £500 or more is made to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 1st May 2018.

 

Signed England football shirt from November 2017 games

4 prizes/shirts to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever an individual makes a financial donation to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 9th February 2018 and closes 2nd May 2018.


Signed England football shirt from November 2017 games

3 prizes/shirts to be won

Entry to this Prize Draw is made whenever a registered business makes a financial donation to a participating schools’ Mini Pitch fundraising pot through Neighbourly or direct to the school. Minimum donation £5.

Opens 29th February 2018 and closes 15th June 2018.


Terms & Conditions for all prize draws and grand prize entry can be found here: Mini Pitch Prize Draw T&Cs


Donations can be made by visiting the campaign page, scrolling down to choose a participating school and clicking on 'donate'.


Any queries should be sent to support@neighbourly.com


Best of luck!

There's no place like home

27 February 2018
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24 Feb - 3 March 2018 is Homelessness Awareness Week in our home town of Bristol - an annual campaign to raise awareness of homelessness, those at risk of becoming homeless and the issues facing rough sleepers. 

Homelessness is continuing to rise and is now at its highest rate since the ‘90s. It's estimated that over 60% of homelessness is 'hidden', with people finding temporary solutions to avoid the dangers of the streets. This recent article from the BBC: You're on the verge of losing everything - but you don't understand why really touched us, and provides great insight into how easily a run of bad luck could happen to any one of us.

You may have already seen or donated to our campaign 'No Place Like Home' which we've been running over the winter months. The campaign is helping to raise essential funds for a collection of small, front-line homelessness organisations across the UK. These groups are working day and night, rain and shine, to support people with nowhere to call home - giving them respite from hunger and assault and providing a launchpad to local housing options and support services.

As we enter one of the coldest week's of the year, please spare a few minutes to share the campaign page or any of the participating project pages on your TwitterFacebook or other social channels. If you'd like to make a donation, please choose a project from the campaign page and press 'Support this project': www.neighbourly.com/NoPlaceLikeHome

How To: Help Your Local Animal Shelter

1 February 2018
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Britain is a nation of animal lovers and if you're anything like me (jumping for joy at every dog you come across in the street), then helping out at your local animal shelter is a great way to spend some free time.

Unfortunately there's a variety of reasons a pet can end up in a shelter. The obvious ones are the worst: cases of abuse and neglect. But sometimes it could be that the owner has passed away and there's nowhere left for their pet to go. The owner might have developed a serious or long term illness which means they can't care for them properly anymore.

There are often more of these cases than there are spaces in animal shelters. Staff at these animal shelters rely on donations to help keep doors open and volunteers to help them with their day to day care of the animals.

So what can you do to help?

Social media: they say charity starts at home, or in some cases, wherever you are with your mobile phone! You can start by sharing updates from your local shelter or adoption profiles on your social media channels. We know that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest etc. are huge sources of information for most folks these days. Imagine you share little Bubbles' adoption profile on your Instagram tomorrow and next week she's off to her forever home because of it!

Photography: another useful and super fun activity you can volunteer for. For every pet up for adoption, a new mugshot is needed. Pets need to look their best for their adoption profiles and your photograph might capture the smile somebody has been looking for. Good quality photos of day to day activities, staff, volunteers and housing at the charity will also be really useful for the shelter to use for their own social media channels.

Transport: do you have a car? Transporting animals is a key need for charities - they need transport to get to the vet or maybe their new foster home. What better companion on the road riding shotgun than a four legged friend?

Socialising: this one is everyone's favourite! Dogs and cats need socialising to help them alleviate loneliness and distress that often comes with the shift from home to shelter life. Dogs will need exercising and cats will need cuddling - this human contact also helps them build on becoming more comfortable with new and different people.

Donating items: by donating stuff this means the charity doesn't need to use hard earned monetary donations on the purchasing of items when it could be used towards something crucial like vet bills. It's always best to check with your local shelter what they need, but they will always welcome beds, blankets, toys, cat litter and food etc. Well loved and used items are fine but make sure they're still in a relatively good condition. I'm sure you wouldn't want to sleep in a bed that's been chewed to pieces either!


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DIY skills: if you're good with your hands or have a group of friends willing to help, then skills like gardening and carpentry are always appreciated. There will always be bits that need mending - fences to put up, walls to paint, plants to prune! Gardening will also help the premises look more homely for its residents and provide lots of smells for the ones who like to follow their noses.

Laundry: this is probably one you haven't thought of before, but can you imagine how many blankets, towels and beds need washing? This one is sure to score you some brownie points, even if it's just volunteering half an hour to come in and throw a few loads in the washing machine. It means another member of staff can use that time to exercise a few extra animals - or just give them a well earned break.

Fundraising: this is obvious but vital to keep a shelter running. More often than not they rely on donations from generous donors and fundraisers or local grants. But with budgets being cut all over the nation, it's getting increasingly more difficult. These donations help to feed animals, pay for expensive vet bills and keeping the premises warm and running. Most staff work on a voluntary basis because there just aren't enough funds to go around, but these people give their time to work each day around the clock. There are a million ways to fundraise! From a bake sale at your local supermarket (remember to ask their permission first) to an epic skydive wearing a cat costume - it's all for a great cause and you'll have a blast doing it.

Fostering: this comes with some measure of responsibility and won't suit everyone. You'll likely need to be someone who's home a lot so that when your new furry housemate comes to stay, you can help them adjust and relax. Fostering is a great way to get animals used to human contact and the comings and goings of home life and is vital when the shelter runs out of room for the next animal who needs it. Who knows, you may find that having them around isn't so bad and they might be able to join your family full time :)

Take a look at some of our animal rescue on projects and see how you can help!


About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.


'No Place Like Home' campaign to support local homelessness charities

6 December 2017
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No Place Like Home is our new campaign aimed at helping anyone without a permanent home this Christmas, from those sleeping rough to those being provided for by foodbanks, temporary shelters or refuges. The Neighbourly website will provide a platform for more than 55 charities and projects across the UK, enabling them to reach local individuals who want to help. The requests for support range from funding for food items, warm clothing and sleeping bags and tents, as well as bags for belongings, toys and games.

Watch the campaign film.

Homelessness is currently at its highest rate since the 1990s, and local organisations (many of which are run by volunteers) are being forced to do more with their dwindling resources. Further pressure is being exerted because of local council cuts and less funding for homeless organisations, as well as cuts to mental health provision which has also led to a rise in homelessness.

Having a safe place to call home enables us to focus on our wellbeing, employment and social lives, but homelessness (or the threat of it) can happen all too quickly and easily. What has hit hardest is the reduction of support for local authorities, meaning that councils have had to cut back on support for those working with the most dispossessed. This campaign aims to support projects delivering essential services to people who, for whatever reason, need emergency support from a local charity - bringing them together in one place so that individuals and companies can contribute

We devised the campaign following feedback from our community asking for specific help this year as homelessness levels are anticipated to rise to the same numbers seen in the 1990s. We're hoping that business backers, keen to lend their brand to help raise awareness, and local individuals will contribute to the projects they care about through individual donations.

The homelessness crisis is currently at its worst. Officially, more than 4,130 people slept rough every night in the UK in 2016, a 16% rise on the previous year and more than double the 2010 figure. The true figure is many times higher. It is estimated that 62% of homelessness is ‘hidden’ because it includes people who become homeless but find a temporary solution such as staying with friends or living in a squat.

How to get involved:

Homelessness organisations who need funding or donations are welcome to join the campaign – please email hello@neighbourly.com for more info.


It's Time To Cheer For Good!

29 November 2017
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From Wednesday 29th November it's time to get cheering!

Up until 20th December, 210 charities and their supporters nominated by Starbucks partners and customers around the UK will be raising awareness of important local causes on their Neighbourly pages and across Twitter using the hashtag #CheerForGood.

All 210 charities will receive a £500 grant from Starbucks and the 30 charities who cheer the loudest will receive £2,000!

You may recall similar festive campaigns Starbucks have run with Neighbourly over recent years. We spoke with charity St. Bernadette's BEEs Preschool who secured a £1,000 grant last year and here's what they had to say..

"It was a great opportunity not to be missed for such a small pre-school so we just picked up the pace and just went for it for it last year - I still can’t believe we secured £1000 by just tweeting and sharing our story. It’s just fantastic. 

We have worked tirelessly fundraising for our preschool, with more and more companies retracting support for small charities like our own the Neighbourly platform has become a vital lifeline to attract the support of companies.

We used the grant to purchase a new outdoor playhouse, sleepers, plants to grow our own vegetables, sand and arranged for Millers Animals to visit the preschool. Some of our children do not have access to an outdoor space at home and by bring the farm to the preschool more families were able to attend."

Now you can see all 210 charities taking part here! Want to support your favourite? Here's how:

  • Sign up to Neighbourly, follow and say hi to your charity on their project page
  • Tweet your support by including their Twitter handle and the hashtag #CheerForGood

Each charity's cheer will be measured by it's activity score on Neighbourly (followers, photos and updates posted etc.) and by the amount of tweets including their Twitter handle and the hashtag. So if you're tweeting support - don't forget to include #CheerForGood!

Every tweet you send will push your favourite charity just that little bit closer to that £2,000 grant so what are you waiting for?

Happy #CheerForGood everybody!


About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.


Becoming a neighbourly society - the time is now

8 June 2017
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Now, more than ever, we’re hearing about the huge, ever-expanding gaps in UK public services that are going to need an army of new volunteers if the provision is to continue. Volunteers Week 2017 has rightly brought more of this crisis to our attention – after all, the week is (or should be) as much about recruiting new volunteers as it is celebrating and thanking existing ones.

As this Guardian article states, volunteers are now running libraries, maintaining parks and staffing hospital reception desks due to austerity cuts, and whilst this is worth and estimated £23bn a year in economic value, it’s still nowhere near enough. And the extent of charities’ work in delivering frontline services keeps on increasing. Included in the essential services run by the charitable sector are ambulance services, housing, health & social care, probation, community transport, mental health and search and rescue – to name a few.

The dream – where neighbourly communities are built with residents, companies, local government teams, charities and community projects, all working in unison like a well-oiled machine – seems ever further from reach. Delivering resources into places that they are needed, building funds where they are depleted and diverting helping hands to where they can help shouldn’t be so difficult. But it is.

Many of these problems could be helped if we, as a whole society, could more easily draw upon our neighbourly values and lend support within our means to ensure everyone not just survives but thrives. We are given some glimpses of hope – The Charities Aid Foundation’s annual UK Giving report, for instance, says that 89% of people “did something charitable” in 2016, including volunteering, which is a huge hike from 79% in 2015.

Official figures are less encouraging though. People reporting having formally volunteered at least once a month – through a group, club or organisation – has flatlined since the turn of the century, standing in the last Cabinet Office survey of 2015-16 at 14.2 million, or 27% of the adult population. Informal volunteering – helping people who are not relatives and doing so not through a group, club or organisation, at least monthly – stood at 18 million, or 34% of the population, in 2015-16. These numbers have stayed broadly unchanged since 2000.

But perhaps it is not a lack of desire, rather a logistical minefield, that stops more of us from contributing. What are we permitted to do? How should we organise ourselves?

And what about companies in all of this? The Guardian article states that ‘charities will have to do much of the heavy lifting on this themselves’ – the 2015 legislation promise of three days’ paid volunteering leave annually for all public-sector workers and those private companies with 250+ staff, remains unfulfilled (and isn’t in the Tory 2017 programme). Regardless of legislation, many businesses have already bought in to the well-documented ‘employee volunteering business case’ and there has been an astronomic increase in UK companies (large ones at least) engaging in some form of employee volunteering. However, The London Benchmarking Group reported that the average proportion of employees engaging in employee volunteering in their member firms was 19 per cent last year, but often uptake is much lower.

There’s clearly a multitude of barriers. Whilst participating companies do advertise the opportunities, it isn’t always enough to turn employees into volunteers. They need to understand what they can learn, the impact they can have and how it will make them feel. Some companies we speak to say they have tried to make this work but their employees felt they didn't want to take the entitlement because they didn't know what opportunities were available and what the business really wanted them to do with the days.

But we think there’s another major factor at play – and one that is not just related to the giving of time. Again and again we come across a snag with company contributions. VAT regulations on product donations, Health and Safety regulations around volunteering, not to mention the complexities of insurance. And of course, the legislation associated with passing on food to those in need, makes these human things extremely worrisome (and in some cases a complete blocker) for the companies that do want to contribute.

The Good Samaritans Act is an interesting concept. It takes many forms across the globe, but if you look at the US, where all 50 states have some type of Good Samaritan law, individuals currently have protection when they lend a hand in an emergency. Put simply, if you see someone in trouble and you stop to help, but inadvertently do more harm than good, you are protected from being sued.

Could the principles of this act be extended more broadly in the UK to companies to take some of the shackles off? Can we become a society where if we see a need and we want to help, then we can have a go – being sensible in our decisions and careful and respectful in delivery of course – but free from the fear of repercussions?

Something has to change, for sure. Let’s have a look at Edelman’s 17th annual trust and credibility survey: ‘We are experiencing a total collapse in trust in the institutions that shape our society.’ Trust in the UK is at a historic low at 29 per cent. There is an unprecedented feeling that life is not as fair as it used to be. And sadly, only one in nine of the UK population think that the system still works.

Business needs to lead, and be free to do so. The rewards could be huge – our recent research showed employer led volunteering as resoundingly positive (7+ out of 10 - from the individuals taking part). Those who volunteered with their company trust other people and companies more than those who haven’t, and are more likely to recommend their company to a friend. On top of this, the research shows they are happier and more satisfied with life.

Clearly Marks and Spencer get it: this week 7000 M&S colleagues from over 650 stores and offices will be donating their time and skills to over 700 local community projects. Their new Plan A 2025 #SpenditWell community transformation programme will support 1,000 communities, help 10 million people live happier, healthier lives and convert M&S into a zero-waste business.

There is, very definitely, huge untapped potential, a willingness to contribute and a glut of resources. Take a look at our Twitter feed if you ever need a reminder of the undying spirit of neighbourliness that defines our communities. Or this story of supermarket workers from Sainsbury’s donating food to police officers in the recent London Bridge attacks.

Let’s make the fabric of our society and the ownership of it a shared challenge where we all have and equal hand in helping it flourish.

How to write a compelling project story

19 December 2016
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Once upon a time, a charity like yours decided to set up a profile on Neighbourly.

What is it about storytelling that grabs our attention? Well, we’ve been telling stories for thousands of years; they’re more memorable than facts, activate more of our brains and make us twice as generous when it comes to donating.

So it begs the question – are you telling a story about your charity, and if so, what story are you telling?

When businesses and potential supporters arrive at your project page, they’ll probably head straight for your description to understand exactly what your organisation (or project) is about. This could be the make or break moment when they try to determine whether your cause is something that they want to align with.

You could probably write pages and pages about your organisation and the background of your project, but writing a compelling project story means distilling it down to its essence. Here are some ideas on engaging supporters with your organisation's story.

 

Why should people support you?

As someone close to your charity, you can probably think of plenty of reasons why people should support your organisation. Start by noting these down, as this will help tell your story.

 

Consider starting off with a specific anecdote

There’s a reason why many public speakers kick off with a personal anecdote – as humans, we’re wired to hear them! It also helps us to relate to and empathise with a scenario. For example, a story of someone suffering from homelessness might begin with redundancy, divorce or other negative life event that could happen to anyone.

 

What story would you like to tell?

You might depict a fictional person that represents your ‘average’ service user, or a real person that experienced true transformation thanks to your organisation. Perhaps that person is a volunteer, or you might want to explore the story of how your group came to fruition. Regardless of what story you choose, make it feel personal - your supporters are influenced more by their emotions than rationality.

 

How to tell a story

Traditionally, the story arc is a three-act structure: setup, confrontation and resolution. A good way to break that down is to introduce your character, a challenge they need to overcome, what action they took with the help of your charity (and donors), and finally the impact this has on their life.

 

Back your story up with facts

Once you’ve explored the individual’s story, zoom out and illustrate the trends at large. How many people are affected by this problem? Is the situation getting worse? What does the future look like for those affected if nothing is done?

You may have already introduced the great work your organisation does in the story at the beginning, but again, you can broaden the information out. How many people are you helping? How is that impacting society? What kind of future are you working towards?

 

Be specific how support will help

If you’re raising funds or rallying volunteers on Neighbourly, share exactly what this support will achieve, both in practical terms (such as renovating a space) and in terms of impact. This might be making your centre more pleasant for beneficiaries to be in, but also enabling you to help even more people.

 

Consider the person reading about your project

Why should they help your organisation rather than another one tackling the same issue? Why now? Remember that both people and businesses are looking to help causes that reflect their own worldview, so be clear on what your vision is.

Also, use language that your audience will understand. Your supporters might be emotionally engaged with your cause, but not an expert on the subject. Avoid jargon and always try to explain things in the simplest manner possible.

 

Get inspired

It’s always helpful to take inspiration from how other charities choose to tell their story. Take a look at the other projects looking for support on neighbourly.


About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.